'Alternative Facts' in Sports That Turned out to Be False

Zac Wassink@https://twitter.com/ZacWassinkFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2017

'Alternative Facts' in Sports That Turned out to Be False

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    Mike Coppola/Getty Images

    Supposed "alternative facts" and "fake" news stories are being discussed more than ever before of late. This phenomenon goes beyond the world of politics, as there are a plethora of instances of well-known sports figures stating "alternative facts" eventually proven to be incorrect.

    It was roughly a decade ago when Nick Saban declared he wouldn't be the Alabama head football coach. Now, in January 2017, Saban is widely regarded as one of the greatest college football coaches in history largely because of all he has achieved as the head man of the Crimson Tide program. Imagine how different the sport would be today if Saban had decided he had something to prove in the National Football League 10 years ago.

    Rex Ryan guaranteed he would lead the New York Jets to a championship. Pete Rose swore he never bet on baseball when he was a manager. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert once wrote an infamous and regrettable letter. 

    The Internet never forgets, so goes the saying, and thus these "alternative sports facts" remain in our memories. Remember this the next time you take to any social media platform to make a bold prediction about an upcoming sporting event. 

Rex Ryan and the Super Bowl

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    Rich Barnes/Getty Images

    You have to give football coach Rex Ryan credit for believing in himself and remaining optimistic in his abilities. 

    As Chris Mason of the Boston Herald explained in September 2015, Ryan has a history of guaranteeing he will lead a team to a Super Bowl and then failing to achieve that accomplishment. Ryan repeatedly stated he would win a title with the New York Jets, but he lost a pair of AFC Championship contests during his tenure with the club. His stint with the Buffalo Bills ended in less than two years. 

    Ryan is a boisterous character who makes for entertaining press conferences, and he's good at earning the support of fans via his promises. We still have hope Ryan will make it to a Super Bowl one of these years. 

    However, he might just have to buy a ticket just like anybody else. 

Pete Rose Never Bet on Baseball

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    As far as we know, Pete Rose never cheated during his playing days. To the best of our knowledge, Rose set the record for most career hits in Major League Baseball history by being a talented hitter who never took steroids or any other similar substances. Rose's sports crime involved gambling, particularly when he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

    Per ESPN.com, Rose claimed for nearly 15 years he never bet on baseball before he finally admitted to doing so in an autobiography published back in 2004. In 2007, Rose claimed he bet on the Reds "every night" when he was the Cincinnati manager. 

    Rose's greatness at the plate and his "alternative facts" about his betting habits shouldn't overshadow the fact he currently isn't in the Hall of Fame because he signed an agreement that included a lifetime ban in 1989. The 75-year-old was his own worst enemy in multiple ways, and some will remember him more as somebody who gambled on his team and lied about it than as a legendary player. 

Nick Saban Isn't Leaving the Miami Dolphins

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    How have you all enjoyed Nick Saban being the head coach of the Miami Dolphins over the past decade? Wait, he left the Dolphins after the 2006 NFL season? That's weird, because he made it clear he wasn't going anywhere. 

    As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explained, Saban emphatically stated in December 2006 he wasn't going to leave Miami to take the job at Alabama. Saban quickly changed his mind, however, as he was introduced as Alabama's new football coach in January 2007. 

    That decision has worked out pretty well for Saban. He's guided the Crimson Tide to four national championships, and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football. It's hard to envision Saban trading life at Alabama for one more NFL job in the foreseeable future. 

    In another world dominated by "alternative facts," maybe Saban would be known as an all-time great NFL coach who helped the Miami Dolphins win multiple Super Bowl titles.

Dana White: Women Will Never Fight in the UFC

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    The Ultimate Fighting Championship has changed in many ways over the years. Women's divisions being added to the promotion is one example.

    Back in January 2011, UFC boss Dana White told TMZ women would "never" fight in the UFC. White eventually changed his mind, as he signed Ronda Rousey and made her the first female champion in UFC history. Per Jeff Cain of MMA Weekly, White stated in 2015 adding women to the promotion was his best decision. 

    Rousey became an international star and household name, and she put women's mixed martial arts on the map and in front of audiences who otherwise probably would've ignored such fights. The top female fighters in the UFC are main-eventers featured at the top of pay-per-view cards as of early 2017. 

    It was only six years ago when White said women would never fight in the UFC. We're sure he's glad that "alternative fact" proved to be incorrect.

Andre Villas-Boas Says Gareth Bale Isn't Leaving Tottenham

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    The summer of 2013 was a magical time for supporters of Tottenham Hotspur. 

    Spurs barely missed qualifying for the Champions League the previous season, but the club was able to build around young superstar Gareth Bale. Bale was, at the time, the best attacking player in the Premier League and a man seemingly capable of carrying a talented team all the way to a title.

    Rumors of Real Madrid targeting Bale didn't bother Tottenham supporters that June, as Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas stated Bale wasn't leaving the club per Sky Sports.  There was no reason to doubt Villas-Boas, and the hope had by Spurs fans was that Bale would sign a contract extension with the club. 

    That didn't happen, as Bale made the move from White Hart Lane to the Bernabeu in September 2013. Bale has since helped Real win the Copa del Rey and the Champions League, while Villas-Boas and Tottenham parted ways in December 2013.

Did Sports Illustrated Jinx the Cleveland Indians?

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    You probably know about the alleged Sports Illustrated jinx. Athletes and teams featured on the cover of the famous sports magazine have, over the years, suffered defeats or other calamities. Some fans would prefer their favorite teams and athletes never be mentioned in the magazine at all. 

    The 2015 Cleveland Indians may be a recent victim of the "SI Jinx" for those who believe in such things. 

    The "alternative fact" here, per SI.com, is that those writing for the publication picked the Indians to win the 2015 World Series. In reality, the Indians were a year away from competing for a title, as the 2015 edition of the club won only 81 games. Cleveland did make it to the World Series last fall, but the club blew a 3-1 series lead and ultimately lost to the Chicago Cubs.

    It may be for the best if SI just ignores the Indians between now and the start of the 2017 campaign. 

Alex Rodriguez Denies Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    A wide variety of Major League Baseball players used performance-enhancing drugs over multiple decades. We now know that to be true. Sluggers, pitchers and everyday performers embraced taking these substances. That was the nature of the league.

    Former New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez denied using such substances over the years. A-Rod, a "lightning rod" as it pertained to generating headlines and sparking discussions on this matter, later changed his tune per Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, as he reportedly told federal investigators he used such drugs. 

    Perhaps most noteworthy about this story is that baseball fans around the country weren't all that shocked. A gifted and talented baseball star used substances to make himself a better player? You don't say. 

    We're desensitized to such stories at this point, so much so that some baseball fans wouldn't care if Rodriguez and other admitted PED users were voted into the Hall of Fame in the future. 

Dan Gilbert's Letter

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    Phil Long/Associated Press

    Some individuals in northeast Ohio were downright heartbroken when local product LeBron James took his talents to South Beach and left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010. Pockets of fans burned jerseys, while others took to social media and Cleveland sports talk radio to complain about the matter. 

    Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote a letter, maybe the most famous letter ever penned by any NBA team owner. 

    Per ESPN.com, Gilbert's letter included a personal guarantee the Cavaliers would win a championship 
    "BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE." That, of course, didn't happen. James and the Heat won a pair of titles over four seasons, and the Cavaliers became one of the worst franchises in the NBA over that period of time. 

    This story has a happy ending, as James returned home to the Cavs and guided the club to a title that ended Cleveland's 52-year championship drought. The hope is that Gilbert will write a different and kinder letter when James retires at some point in the future. 

Trent Dilfer on the New England Patriots

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Remember when the Kansas City Chiefs beat the New England Patriots 41-14 in late September 2014? The Patriots fell to 2-2 in the standings following that loss, and some out there believed that night proved the Patriots were no longer the team of old. 

    Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN personality Trent Dilfer went further with his criticism of the Patriots following that memorable night. As Andrew Bucholtz of The Comeback documented, Dilfer stated, on national television, the Patriots were "not good anymore." 

    Whoops.

    Brady and the Patriots went on to defeat the Seattle Seahawks at Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015, and the Patriots will face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI on February 5, 2017. It turns out the Patriots are still pretty good and will likely be good again next season. 

Mike Francesa on the Green Bay Packers and Donald Trump

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    New York sports talk radio icon Mike Francesa is a legend of the business. Francesa is, during a normal week that doesn't include the "Sports Pope" taking a vacation, on the air over 20 hours a week, so it's not all that surprising he would get some things wrong every now and again. 

    The Twitter account Sports Funhouse documents occasions of Francesa spouting "alternative facts" such as the two mentioned here. 

    Earlier this football season, Francesa stated on the air it would be best for all involved if Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy moved on from the club. McCarthy, with the help of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, guided the Packers to the NFC Championship game, and we can safely assume he'll remain the coach of the Packers heading into the 2017 season. 

    Well before November 2016, Francesa claimed during a segment of his show Donald Trump didn't have a shot to win the election and become president. You probably wouldn't be reading this had Francesa been correct, and that's why his "alternative facts" top this list.